6 Tips On Safely Handling Wooden Pallets
23 Jul 2018
Unfortunately, pallets are the cause of numerous injuries in warehouses and workplaces every year. These injuries can be serious and even fatal, so it’s important to put a safe handling wooden pallets protocol in place.
Let’s look first at the hazards. Fully laden pallets are extremely heavy. Crush injuries, and even fatalities, can occur if the pallets are not stored on the correct racking, are moved carelessly or are not strong enough to withstand the load placed on them. Then there’s the pallet itself. Wooden pallets can splinter and break, causing cuts, grazes and abrasions.
So let’s consider what you can do to minimise the risk to employees and members of the public and to ensure a safe handling wooden pallets regime.
1. Inspect the Pallets Before Starting Work
Many industrial accidents caused by pallets can be prevented easily and cheaply by a simple inspection of the pallets at some point during the logistics and warehousing process. Any pallets that are damaged or cracked or unlikely to be able to carry a full load must be removed from service. Inspect the pallets regularly to ensure that there are no loose nails, which could fall out and cause the pallet to fail. Also check for protruding nails or screws.
2. Wear the Correct Safety Gear
Many injuries are caused by workers dropping pallets and injuring either their hands or feet. Protective gloves will not only prevent injuries to people’s hands, they will also enable pallet handlers to work more quickly. It is possible to buy gloves that have enhanced grip on the palm side of the glove.
Similarly, safety footwear is essential when employees are handling heavy objects such as pallets. Robust boots will withstand a heavy object, such as a pallet, being dropped on someone’s foot, and they will also resist injuries from protruding nails and splinters.
3. Practise Safe Manual Handling
Employees should be trained in how to handle a pallet safely. That means keeping a posture that will protect the operator’s back when they are lifting or moving pallets. Make sure that employees know when a job must be carried out by two people.
Pallets should never be thrown or dropped. There are two reasons for this. One is that it weakens the pallet, thus making it more likely to fail and cause an injury in the future. The second is that throwing or dropping pallets is in itself a hazard because if someone unexpectedly walks into range, they will be injured.
4. Be Careful When Loading and Stacking
Always load the pallet within its maximum permitted weight, and make sure that the load is evenly distributed across the pallet. Stacks should be flat and no higher than four foot. If you require a stack of more than half a dozen pallets, use a forklift.
5. Good Housekeeping Reduces Accidents
If a pallet breaks for any reason, clear up the broken pieces immediately, as these are trip hazards. Keep the warehouse or pallet handling area swept and clean. Importantly, never let pallets get stacked across fire exits or in front of fire extinguishers.
None of these precautions are expensive – they just require a little thought and a good awareness of safe handling wooden pallets rules by the warehouse staff.